Are attending job fairs still useful in this electronic age of resume posting? (part 1)

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Are attending job fairs still useful in this electronic age of resume posting? (Part 1)

There are many mixed feelings about whether job fairs are a ‘waste of time’ for the employers or the job seekers nowadays.  Job fairs are getting quite expensive for companies to attend and set up a booth, they are still attending to look for qualified job candidates for open positions.  Job seekers attend and get the impression there wasn’t anything in it for them.  There are still advantages for both parties.  I’ll break this down to two parts – one will list the employer’s and the second will list the job seeker’s advantages.

Why do employers still attend job fairs in this electronic technology age? Most companies now have online resume ATS (automated tracking systems) for recruiting efforts to handle the deluge of job applicants for every job posted.  These electronic resume databases assist recruiters in finding the best applicant for an open position based on key skill words and queries they perform on those key words. But they still attend job fairs for several reasons:

  • The employer is desperate to fill a position ‘yesterday’ and has loaded its guns with several managers to find a candidate and interview them immediately (meaning some employers might not be on a attending list, but get in last minute)
  • Employers wish to get their list of job openings virally marketed. Hard-copy lists do get circulated by job fair attendees to their friends, family, peers, and co-workers
  • Branding the company, get their name ‘out there,’ become recognizable to future job applicants when the time comes to solicit their resumes and recruit for positions
  • To give attendees an idea of the type of people who work for the companies, to get warm fuzzies from those attending the job fair and visiting the company booth
  • Recruiting for affirmative action applicants to balance out deltas in AAP staffing and to document and prove the company has made efforts in recruiting those candidates
  • To ‘resume farm’ for potential job openings in the future, even if they are not open or posted now, to encourage today’s job seekers to load resumes into the online system for future consideration
  • To ‘peek’ at other companies in the same business arena (industrial spying ‘lite’) to see what jobs are open or for which they are ‘resume farming’
  • Employers may have already paid for the job fair booth months ago, and they don’t want to waste money they can’t get refunded (sometimes employers don’t bother showing up if it costs more to fly in a recruiter with no jobs to fill)
  • Human resources departments schedule a minimum number of recruiting activities annually, and job fairs may be on the list for currently funded events (and they want to get out of the office occasionally)

Many job seekers are stymied employers no longer accept hard-copy resumes – especially those in the defense contracting industry.  There is a relatively new law enforced by the OFCCP, EEOC, and DOL agencies driving this decision. Any hard copy resume accepted (in a job fair) is a ‘considered for hire’ candidate, whether qualified for the job or not, and thus EEOC information must be recorded and documented.  What does this mean to the process?  Companies circumvent the time-consuming, manual recording of candidate information by forcing job seekers to apply online where the information is automated, self-reported, provide easier to compile reports, and unqualified candidates can easily be disqualified in the system with a toggle of a button.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 in the next article:

How many types of resumes should one have?

Dawn Boyer, Small Business HR, Career, and LinkedIn Social Media Coach

D. Boyer Consulting, 5428 Whitehurst Arch, Va. Beach, VA  23464 / Cell: (757) 404-8300

Follow me on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer


Dawn Boyer is a doctoral student at Old Dominion University in the Darden College of Education, working on her PhD in Occupational Studies and Technology), as well as working as a (Doctoral) Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching computer science and technology to undergraduate students. Ms. Boyer has over 20 years of senior management experience in human resources, of which nine years is in the defense-contracting arena. She also provides HR consulting services via D. Boyer Consulting to small businesses, including dynamically growing 8(a) set-aside defense companies, in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Her LinkedIn profile is: She accepts all LinkedIn invites via: Join her 4,600+ connections!  Follow her on Twitter: @Dawn_Boyer.  Read her blogs at


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Resume Presentation Flyer_June 2010